Americans are voting in the most hotly contested midterm elections in recent history today, against a political backdrop of division and polarisation.
470 congressional seats are up for grabs. All 435 seats of the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and 35 Senate seats are being contested.
Both chambers are currently held by president Donald Trump’s Republican party. Democrats need to gain 23 seats in the House and 2 in the Senate to flip control in their favour.
Historically, the party of an incumbent president suffers in a midterm election.
It’s expected Democrats will manage to reclaim control of the House. However, when it comes to the Senate, they’re are much less confident. This is because 26 of the 35 seats up for grabs are seats with a Democratic incumbent.
Despite not actually being on the ballot, Donald Trump is a big factor in these elections. He is the face of America’s current culture of division, whether you love him or hate him. The partisan split in the president’s approval rating is incredible. Among Republicans Trump has an approval rating of 88%. This falls to just 8% among Democrats. Many opposed to Donald Trump are viewing these midterms as an opportunity to rebuke the president.
Aside from President Trump, the other two big issues are immigration and healthcare. Both issues Trump has placed himself at the centre of.
The “border wall” and repealing Obama’s affordable healthcare act were key issues of the Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Yesterday TV networks NBC and Fox News, along with Facebook, pulled a political advert sponsored by the president’s 2020 reelection campaign as they all deemed it to be racist.
The ad showed courtroom footage of an illegal immigrant who killed two police officers in 2014, along with pictures of migrants travelling through Mexico. It was widely panned for being racially divisive.
If Republicans do lose the House, Trump’s administration will face increased hurdles when trying to pass legislation. Democrats will also have access to key committees which could lead to investigations into the administration.
Retaining the Senate however, would mean that Trump would find it easier to get approval of nominations for judges and cabinet members.
With a lot to play for on the ballot, these elections will decide the next two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.